The two-story Torrance Memory Care community is a 56 bed, 37,000 sq. ft. building along the dazzling Pacific Coast Highway. The design is coastal contemporary so although it has all of the required features of a licensed memory care community, the design itself is far from typical.
Real estate along the California coast is in high demand and large lots are at a premium. This site is only .81 acres and has a 28’-0” setback on the north–further limiting the developable area. This extra setback allowed us to incorporate an outdoor courtyard for the residents. There are also 20 on grade parking stalls that had to be factored into to the building’s limited footprint.
Density was achieved by adding a second story extension over the parking and access drive aisle. With the single loaded access drive, a traditional porte cochére (or covered entrance) was impractical. The solution was achieved by incorporating a modern steel cantilevered ported cochére. This achieved the program need while adding a dynamic entry feature with an attractive and resource-friendly vegetated cover. As with every project, we wanted to make the most of existing resources. The exposed drainage from the cover leads to a planter adjacent the front door–taking full advantage of water the cover receives. Provisions are also being made for solar energy to harness the plentiful California sun.
The selected building finishes are stone, cementitious lap siding with varying 8”, and 4” reveals, and stucco siding with expansion joints. The wood on the building acts a clear signifier of entry and establishes hierarchy by its height and sloped roof.
The building strikes a comfortable balance between commercial and residential with the mixed use of materials. Canopies on the upper windows were also added to bring another softening, residential element. The colors were purposefully selected to celebrate the building location while maintaining a soft, refreshing and inviting first impression.
The 56 unit Windsong Memory Care at Eola Hills is a classic study in form and function. This 32,000 square foot building is designed to support the special needs of residents suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The Windsong Memory Care community practices a progressive approach towards extending seniors’ quality of life by incorporating the Montessori style of learning. The building and its exterior open living spaces, activity and sitting areas are designed to help ease feelings of confusion and disorientation while encouraging interaction and activity.
The owner approached Lenity Architecture with a prototypical concept for a figure 8 building design. The site was ideal in the sense that it was surrounded by farmland and residential yet conveniently located for visitors and staff. However, during the site planning and feasibility phase, we found that the size of the site wasn’t conducive for the number of units intended in the original concept design.
To overcome this challenge, the building needed to become extremely efficient in its form and function. The architect divided the original figure 8 design and brought half of the building around in a different configuration. Through creative problem solving, we were able to address the site constraints and in doing so–leveraged the redesign to add beauty and interest to the exterior. The front exterior is broken up and jogs back and forth to create interest and depth. So, although the building itself is large, it feels welcoming and intimate as you approach. Additional design elements such as the combination of wood siding, stone, heavy timber and wood brackets add a rustic feeling that compliments the surrounding area.
The nature of Alzheimer’s and dementia care necessitates high security measures for resident safety. Due to the residents’ constricted access beyond their wing of the building, the quality of their outdoor spaces becomes especially significant.
To compliment the Montessori approach to teaching, private spaces were designed to reduce outside stimulation and allow for quiet one-on-one interaction with staff. Landscaped courtyards in the center of each wing allow for easy access and beautiful views throughout the building. The courtyards are designed to with the five senses in mind–an important component of the Montessori style of learning.
The design challenge was to reduce the courtyard’s appearance of a long narrow space while maintaining the highest level of resident safety. Both courtyards provide a 5 ft. minimum wide unobstructed meandering walk for the residents to safely explore the space. The whimsical paving configuration of each courtyard consists of circular and curvilinear planters arranged to break-up the straight lines of the walled boundaries. A fountain, raised planters, seat walls and trees provide the vertical elements. Non-toxic plant materials were selected to provide texture, contrast, fragrance and floral display. The south patio provided the greatest amount of exposure for sun and contains two small covered patios at each end of the space connected by a meandering sidewalk. Prefabricated concrete manhole cones of two heights were provided as raised planters as gardening therapy for residents.
Windsong at Eola Hill’s first resident, Don, was moved by his family from a different facility where his health was rapidly deteriorating. He had lost significant weight, was not speaking, and appeared to be in a deep depression. As the first Windsong resident, Don was given room number one–his first win of many. He is now the walking club leader and maintains a garden in the courtyard. His weight loss is reversing and he is highly engaged with the staff and residents. Don’s success is an example of the ideal marriage between form and function in that every aspect of the building is designed to allow the Montessori program, staff, and most importantly–the residents–to flourish.
About Windsong Memory Care and the Montessori Approach
Windsong at Eola Hills exists to help seniors and their families find harmony during otherwise trying times. The word “windsong” marries the two senses of hearing and touch–senses that since birth, we associate with reassurance and comfort. Through their core programming, which is based on the Montessori style of learning, residents are encouraged in a safe and supportive environment to explore all five senses through meaningful and familiar activities. Since opening in April of 2015, Windsong staff have already witnessed remarkable strides forward in several residents’ sense of well being and ability.
For more information about Windsong at Eola Hills, visit their website at www.windsongmemorycare.com.
The 128 unit, 122,267 Sq. Ft . Heritage Meadows retirement community, located on the main road through downtown Cambridge, brings an urban flair to the traditional senior housing design. The striking James Hardie panel siding, trimmed with Fry Reglet aluminum moldings gives the building a stately modern presence that stands out among independent living communities.
Working with limited space, the design incorporates additional parking under the building giving the north side of the facility the appearance of being five stories tall. The built-in parking created the ideal space in the interior of the building for a gym and wellness center. Curved soffits and ceilings lend a sense of fluidity and movement to the gym and its adjoining kitchen area.
Another unique feature at Heritage Meadows is the large outdoor covered patio and gas fireplace nestled comfortably between a gently winding path and grassy area. Together with a number of common areas spread throughout the building, Heritage Meadows is designed to encourage interaction, movement and contribute to senior’s quality of life.
The seniors that live in our buildings are a cherished part of Lenity’s extended family. Their dignity, safety and independence are always at the forefront of the design process. This 89,711 sq. ft. beautiful senior living community in East Longmeadow, MA features 71 one and two bedroom assisted living suites and 32 memory care suites–each one of them thoughtfully planned and designed to enhance senior’s quality of life.
The building’s design intent was to bring as much of the surrounding area’s beauty indoors while creating an environment that fostered familiarity and friendship. Common areas such as the outdoor patios, theater, café and activity rooms invite seniors to leave their rooms and enjoy the company of others. The comforting, nostalgic flair of the interior design within these common areas recreates memories and fuels conversation.
Located just outside of Springfield, America’s 4th “Greenest City”, the building’s high ceilings and tall windows create vibrant common areas that welcome in nature’s beauty. A balcony café and activity area positioned over the dining room takes advantage of the beautiful natural light. Barnwood and hardware, salvaged from the building site, was repurposed and used as accents throughout the building marrying old and new as part of this community’s unique story.
This 139,321 Sq. Ft. Colonial Gardens retirement community features 155 suites plus 9 individual cottages. Its grand, 6,129 Sq. Ft. dining room is designed to comfortably accommodate the large campus while maintaining a close-knit sense of community. The dining area flows naturally into an open and comfortable sitting area with two stone fireplaces drawing people into relaxed conversation.
The building is designed to bring seniors together while allowing plenty of breathing room for an independent lifestyle. The activity room brings the freshness of the outdoors in with its high ceilings and windows that look out to a garden courtyard and water feature. The building also features a spacious theater, private dining room, library and several common living areas.
The photographer shared of her experience of shooting the property.
“While the building and campus itself is quite large in terms of square footage, a sense of intimacy and warmth radiated from corner to corner of the property. One of my favorite memories from the shoot was watching the residents welcome each other by name as they each entered the large dining room–each new resident forming part of the growing welcome committee. It was like watching an episode of cheers but on a much larger scale! I’ve seen how light and open spaces foster people’s sense of well-being, energy and creativity; The Colonial Gardens retirement community is a beautiful example of how design and thoughtful planning come together to enhance senior’s quality of life.”
– Cheryl McIntosh